Ears to the ground: UP bypolls a warning to BJP
By  IANS | Updated:  Apr 20, 2019, 09:27 AM
Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Kairana and Noorpur continue to haunt the Bhartiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh even as the party leadership insists that it is returning to power with a bigger majority.
The BJP lost these three Lok Sabha and one assembly seat in by-elections last year. The Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats had been vacated with the resignation of Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya while the Kairana seat fell vacant after the demise of BJP MP Hukum Singh. The Noorpur assembly seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh.
The bypoll losses that came within a year of the formation of the Yogi Adityanath government that came with a majority of 325 seats in a house of 403, was shocking.
The losses were a result of the non-performance of the Yogi government, over-confidence of the party and its growing reliance on the Modi factor, apart from a poor choice of candidates.
A major factor that played a role in BJP's defeat and also paved the way for the SP-BSP alliance was the tacit support of the BSP to SP in these by-elections.
The BSP, as a rule, does not contest by-elections and even though Mayawati did not issue an appeal or campaign for the SP candidates, the word went around that the BSP was supporting SP.
In Gorakhpur, the by-election candidate Upendra Shukla was a known Yogi-baiter and had been at loggerheads with the chief minister since the past one decade. When his candidature was announced, Yogi supporters withdrew from the electoral arena, leading to a thumping win for SP's Pravin Nishad.
A similar situation was seen in Phulpur where BJP's Kaushlendra Patel lost to SP's Nagendra Patel.
The BSP votes in both these constituencies tilted the scales against BJP.
The party could not even taken advantage of the sympathy wave in Kairana where Hukum Singh's daughter Mrigangka Singh lost to SP's Tabasum Hasan and Avani Singh (widown of BJP MLA) was defeated by SP's Naimul Hasan.
If the by-elections last year were any indication, the BJP has enough reason to be wary of the SP-BSP alliance in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
First, the alliance has been formalized and leaders of both the parties have been jointly campaigning. On Friday, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati shared the stage after a gap of almost 24 years.
The success in the by-elections has made the alliance trustworthy among voters.
Moreover, candidate selection by the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls in UP has not been too good and most of the sitting MPs are facing a strong anti-incumbency factor.
Besides, candidates like Ravi Kishan in Gorakhpur and Dinesh Yadav Niruaha in Azamgarh clearly indicate that the party is over-confident of its popularity.
The BJP also continues to rely heavily on the Modi factor and is not making any effort to build up its own image in UP.
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